Thaddeus Stevens School, as the result of work with Jen Botzojorns, Superintendent of Kingdom East Unified Union School District, Brandon Mazur, Head of East Burke School, and Hennekis Stoddard from Northern State University, and, since October, Molly Shepley, St, Johnsbury Academy will offer a training, consisting of sequential sessions led by Sha’an Mouliert. Mouliert is co-coordinator of I AM VERMONT, TOO, a photo-story project highlighting people of color living, studying, and working in Vermont. She serves on the advisory boards of the Root Social Justice Center and the Vermont Coalition for Ethnic and Equitable Studies. The training is anchored by Howard Stevenson’s Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools: Differences That Make a Difference, which have been provided by Vermont Humanities Council. The trainings are scheduled to commence in the fall of 2019, with limited spots available.
The committee’s goal is to create a resource network for teachers in the Northeast Kingdom, a place to discuss authors and historical documents that provide a fuller range of curricular offerings and some training in how to teach them.
Two committee members have specialized in working with the histories and texts of marginalized populations. Hansen, Director of Thaddeus Stevens School studied with Valarie Babb, Professor of African American Literature, the Andrew Mellon Professor of Humanities at Emory University and author of Whiteness Visible: The Meaning of Whiteness in American Literature and Culture. Hansen also participated in a summer institute at Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition. Emma Hansen, teacher at Thaddeus Stevens School and Director of Rosie’s Girls at Thaddeus Stevens studied with Emily Bernard, Professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of Vermont and minored in ALANA studies, She also was research assistant for Bernard’s Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten. Together, the two have created a reference library at Thaddeus Stevens School containing fiction, non-fiction, biography, essays, and literary criticism is available for local teachers.
The committee believes that creating a fully inclusive school environment involves at least two components: acquiring language to talk about race, gender, and power, and ensuring that curricular offerings in history and literature promote all voices – racial, ethnic, religious, class, ability, gender, and sexual orientation.
“The time is right for these trainings,” says Director Hansen, “The conversations evoked by Kiah Morris and the Vermont Coalition on Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools inspired us to move forward with our project. It is further supported by research that indicates expanding students’ perspectives enhances their critical thinking skills and academic scholarship.”